Millions of dollars have been paid to intermediaries to free Qatari royal family members who have been held to ransom, new intercepted evidence revealed by the Washington Post shows.
A foreign government provided the intercepted private communications on the hostage deal affair to The Washington Post. The material includes mobile phone conversations, voicemails and messages in Arabic. The documents were provided on the condition that the name of the foreign government is not revealed.
Qatari officials consented to paying for the release of 25 of its nationals, including 16 royal family members, when they were kidnapped during a trip to southern Iraq in November 2015. The group was in the country on a hunting trip, officials had said. The payments included an addition $150 million in cash for intermediaries.
"The Syrians, Hezbollah-Lebanon, Kata'ib Hezbollah, Iraq – all want money, and this is their chance," Zayed Ain Saeed Al-Khayareen, Qatar's ambassador to Iraq and chief negotiator in the hostage affair, wrote in a message, adding, "All of them are thieves."
The payments were part of a broader deal which involves Turkey, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iran in addition to two armed opposition groups in Syria including the Nusrah Front.
Qatar refutes claims that it pays ransom money to free its nationals.